Mac Won’t Turn On? How to Fix It and Make It Boot | MakeUseOf

Got an iMac or MacBook Air that won't turn on, or maybe won't boot past the Apple logo? Don't worry. It's frustrating, but usually fixable.

Here are all the steps you need to get your Mac started again. Just work through them in order, unless your Mac won't boot after a failed operating system update. In that case, skip straight to step 8.

Where Is the Power Button on a MacBook?

Before you get started, make sure you know how to turn on your Mac.

There's no physical power button on newer MacBook models. Instead, look for an unmarked black square on the top-right of the keyboard. This also doubles as the Touch ID sensor; you just need to briefly hold your finger on it to power on your computer.

On an older MacBook, the power button is a clearly marked physical button. It's in the same location on the top-right of the keyboard, alongside the function keys.

You can find the circular power button on an iMac around the rear, bottom-left corner (when looking at your computer from the front). On a Mac Mini, the power button is on the rear, right corner.

1. Check If the Mac Has Power

First, check that your Mac has a power source. Yes, it's silly and obvious, but anyone who's done tech support knows that you have to get the obvious fixes out of the way first.

So if your MacBook won't boot on battery power, plug it in. The battery may be fully depleted, or could be malfunctioning.

If your MacBook won't charge or turn on with the power adapter connected, make sure it's connected properly and not damaged in any way. Try a different power cable, if you've got one around. Also, check that the port is clean. A buildup of dust can disrupt both USB-C ports and older MagSafe chargers.

And while you're at it, check your external hardware as well. Disconnect any peripherals like printers or graphics tablets, as these can sometimes be the cause. If you've got a Mac Mini, make sure the monitor is connected and powered properly.

2. Run a Power Cycle

The next step is to run a power cycle. This completely cuts all traces of power from the Mac and enables you to restart it from scratch.

  • On a recent MacBook, disconnect the power cable and hold the power button down for 10 seconds.
  • For an older MacBook, disconnect the power cable and remove the battery for at least 10 seconds.
  • If you're using a desktop Mac, disconnect the power cord for at least 10 seconds.

Now reconnect the power and try to restart your Mac. This move may be enough to spring it to life.

Holding the power button down like this is the equivalent to pressing a "reset" button or pulling the plug. It works on phones, ebook readers, and pretty much every other gadget that doesn't allow you to remove the battery, so it's a good tip to remember.

3. Boot in Safe Mode

When your MacBook won't boot, try to remember what you were doing the last time it was working. Were you installing apps, fiddling with fonts, or tweaking the system?

If your Mac shows signs of life when you power it on—if it won't go past the Apple logo or login screen, for example—then booting into Safe Mode may help you fix it.

Press the power button on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key. Keep it held until you reach the login screen, then continue as normal.

Safe mode runs a bunch diagnostic tests, then boots a stripped-down version of macOS. This doesn't load your startup apps, custom fonts, extra hardware features, or anything else beyond the basics.

If your Mac boots successfully into Safe mode, you can start uninstalling any new apps, disabling startup items, removing hardware, or undoing any other recent changes that may cause the problem.

4. Reset SMC

The System Management Controller (SMC) controls a host of basic Mac functions. It handles everything from the keyboard backlight, to battery management, to what happens when you press the power button.

Resetting the SMC is a good catch-all solution to many problems, including if your MacBook won't start or it won't wake up when you open the lid. There are a few ways to do it, depending on what model of Mac you've got:

Desktop Macs

  1. Unplug the power cord and wait 15 seconds.
  2. Plug the cord back in and wait another five seconds.
  3. Restart your Mac.

2018 MacBook Pro + MacBooks With T2 Security Chip

  1. Press and hold the right Shift key, the left Option key (Alt), and the left Control key for seven seconds.
  2. While keeping these keys pressed, hold down the power button for another seven seconds.
  3. Release all the keys, wait a few seconds, then restart.

MacBooks Without Removable Batteries

  1. Press and hold the left Shift, Option (Alt), and Control keys, plus the power button (or Touch ID button) for 10 seconds.
  2. Release all the keys, then restart your computer.

Older MacBooks With a Removable Battery

  1. Remove the battery.
  2. Press and hold the power button for five seconds.
  3. Reconnect the battery, then restart the MacBook.

5. Reset NVRAM or PRAM

NVRAM (non-volatile random access memory) is a special section of memory that stores certain settings a Mac needs to access quickly. Although problems with this are less likely to render your computer unbootable, resetting it as a precaution will do no harm.

Older Macs used PRAM (perimeter RAM) instead. The process for resetting either is the same:

  1. Press the power button, then immediately press and hold the Option (Alt), Command, P, and R keys.
  2. Keep the keys pressed for around 20 seconds, even if your Mac appears to restart.
  3. If your Mac plays a startup sound, release the keys after you hear it chime for the second time.
  4. If your Mac has the T2 Chip, release the keys after the Apple logo disappears for the second time.

When your Mac has restarted, you'll find that some basic settings like time zone or volume level might need adjusting.

6. Run Apple Diagnostics

Hopefully by now, your Mac is up and running again. If not, you can check for hardware issues by using the Apple Diagnostics tool. This will check for problems, then either suggest fixes or show your support options.

  1. Disconnect any unnecessary external devices, such as a printer. You can leave your keyboard, mouse, and monitor plugged in if needed.
  2. Press the power button.
  3. Press and hold the D key. Keep it pressed until you see a screen asking you to select your language.
  4. Pick a language, then Apple Diagnostics will begin running its tests. These take a few minutes to complete.

When done, you'll see the results of the test. Some will suggest quick fixes, and give you the chance to re-run the test. Others will generate reference codes which you can look up on the Apple Diagnostics page. It'll also show your Mac support options. If there are no issues, then the fault likely is not with your hardware.

On Macs released before June 2013, you'll get the Apple Hardware Test instead. You activate it in the same way, and the principle is the same. Select your language, then click Test to begin.

7. Use Recovery Mode Tools

All Macs have a special Recovery partition on the hard drive. This boots independently of the full macOS and gives you access to a suite of tools for repairing your computer.

To boot into Recovery:

  1. Press the power button.
  2. Press and hold the Command and R keys.
  3. Release the keys when you see the Apple logo.
  4. When it finishes booting, you'll see a new macOS Utilities menu.

The one to try first is Disk Utility. This is a version of the same tool that's available in macOS and enables you to scan and repair your hard drive or SSD. Select the drive and click First Aid to begin the repair process.

There are a few more tools available through the Utilities menu. These include the Terminal for more advanced users.

8. Reinstall macOS in Recovery Mode

If you've gotten this far, then it's likely that your problem is not hardware-related, nor is it a simple software fix. The best solution now is to restore a Time Machine backup, or reinstall macOS entirely.

You can do this through Recovery. Get started by pressing the power button and holding down the Command and R keys.

If you've got a recent Time Machine backup, you can restore that to see if it solves your problem. If not, choose Reinstall macOS from the menu.

When you choose to reinstall macOS, you're given the option to format your disk as part of the process. Don't select this if you simply want to repair your installation—there's no problem with reinstalling macOS on top of itself.

Follow the onscreen guide to complete the installation. You'll need to be connected to the internet, as the tool will download the operating system from scratch. If you can't get to this, you might need to boot your Mac from a USB drive.

Check for Other Warning Signs on Your Mac

All Macs, whether a high-end MacBook Pro or an older iMac, have great reputations for reliability. But they can still run into problems.

Although it's often relatively easy to fix a Mac that's not turning on, it's best to check for warning signs and patch up problems before they strike.


3 Ways to Get Your Rooted Android Phone Back to Stock | MakeUseOf

There are many reasons you might want to revert your rooted phone back to stock Android. Selling it or making a warranty claim are the biggest. But you also need to do it if you want to install a system update. Or perhaps you've installed so many tweaks and mods that you just want to get back to some semblance of normality.

In this guide, we'll take a look at the three main ways to get back to stock Android. Whether that means going fully unrooted with a locked bootloader or just reverting to the stock ROM but keeping root access, you'll find an option that works for you.

1. Restore a Nandroid Backup

The quickest way to revert your phone back to its stock ROM is to restore your Nandroid backup. Assuming you have an up-to-date one available, this shouldn't result in much---or any---data loss.

A Nandroid backup is a full system backup created in the recovery. You should create one every time you flash a new ROM or install any kind of mod. It's the first tool you should use if you ever need to unbrick your phone.

A Nandroid backup creates a complete snapshot of your phone: the operating system, apps, data, and everything else. Restoring it, therefore, restores the ROM you were using at the time. If you have a backup you took when using the stock ROM, then you're set.

That said, using a Nandroid backup to return to stock is only a short-term option. The backup will restore your old apps and data, meaning that apps you've uninstalled will reappear, and text messages you've since received will disappear. If your Nandroid backup is more than a day or two old, you might want to keep it for emergencies only.

How to Restore a Nandroid Backup

Thankfully, the steps to restoring a Nandroid backup are relatively straightforward:

  1. Boot your phone into your custom recovery. We recommend TWRP.
  2. Select Restore. You'll see a list of all the available backups.
  3. Pick a backup made using the stock ROM.
  4. Select the partitions you want to restore. Normally, this means you should check all the boxes.
  5. Finally, swipe the bar labeled Swipe to Restore. It takes a few minutes to complete, then you can reboot.

That gets you back to your stock ROM. To go the whole way, open the SuperSU app on your phone and go to the Settings tab. Select Full Unroot, then reboot your phone again. It will now be unrooted.

Finally, you might want to relock your bootloader as well. How you do this will vary between devices. The most common method is to use Fastboot with the command fastboot oem lock or fastboot flashing lock.

Re-locking the bootloader wipes your device entirely. You should only do it if you absolutely need to, like if you're sending your phone for a warranty repair or selling it.

2. Flash a Stock ROM

If restoring a Nandroid backup isn't a viable option, then your next best bet is to flash a stock ROM. This comes with the added inconvenience that you will probably need to perform a factory reset along the way, so will need to go through the process of backing up and restoring your Android data.

There are benefits of going from a custom ROM to a stock ROM, too. You might be able to find a version of the ROM that is pre-rooted. Flashing ROMs is also really easy to do.

The biggest obstacle to using a ROM to revert to stock is that you're relying on someone else to create the ROM for you. If you have a popular phone with an active community on the XDA Developers forums, then this isn't a problem. If you own a lesser-known device, a stock ROM may be harder to find.

The exception is if you own a OnePlus device. In this case, you can download a flashable stock ROM direct from the OnePlus website.

How to Flash a Stock ROM

Our guide to installing a custom ROM gives you all info you need. For a quick refresher, here are the steps:

  1. Find a stock ROM for your phone. Go to the XDA Developers forums and locate the forum for your device. Stock ROMs are often found in stickied posts at the top of the development boards.
  2. Download the ROM to your phone.
  3. Back up all your data.
  4. Boot into recovery.
  5. Select Wipe to factory reset your phone. This is optional (if you don't want to bother with backing up and restoring), but you may encounter bugs or even get stuck in a bootloop if you don't do it. Swipe the bar to begin the wipe.
  6. From the recovery home screen, select Install and navigate your way to the stock ROM you downloaded.
  7. Swipe the bar to begin installation. You can reboot your phone when it's finished.

If you downloaded a pre-rooted stock ROM and want to keep it that way, you're now good to go. If you used a non-rooted ROM and want to get back fully to stock, all you need to do now is re-lock the bootloader. Remember that this will wipe your phone.

3. Flash a Factory Image

The ultimate method for getting your phone back to stock is to flash a factory image. This reverts your phone almost to the state it was in when you first unboxed it. All you need to do afterwards is lock the bootloader, and your device will be completely factory fresh.

Factory images come directly from the device manufacturers, and many don't release them. Google, HTC, and Motorola are among the major companies that do. It's normally possible to get factory images from Samsung and LG, but you may need to download them from third-party sites.

And where they are available, they're also more difficult to install than either of the other methods we've outlined. Some require a manual approach using the ADB and Fastboot tools with the command line. Some, like Samsung or HTC, use their own software.

Despite the obstacles, flashing a factory image is the best option if you ever need to completely reset your device. It can also serve as the nuclear option if you've bricked your device and no other methods to fix it are working.

How to Flash a Factory Image

The procedure to flash a factory image can differ from one device to another. In the case of a Pixel, the steps are simple:

  1. Download and set up the ADB and Fastboot tools.
  2. Download the factory image from the Android website. Unzip the download on your desktop.
  3. Connect your phone via USB and boot into Fastboot mode.
  4. Launch the Command Prompt or Terminal app.
  5. At the command prompt, run flash-all.bat on Windows, or on macOS or Linux.
  6. Wait for it to finish, then reboot.

That will take you to a stock, unrooted ROM, with stock recovery as well. Lock the bootloader, and you'll be completely back to normal.

Other phones might have different instructions. You'll usually find them outlined on the same site where you downloaded the images from. Just remember that in most cases, flashing a factory image will completely wipe your phone.

Reinstall the Stock Firmware

Getting back to stock uses the same techniques used to install ROMs and mods in the first place. If you're accustomed to working with a rooted phone, there should be nothing in this guide that's peculiar or alarming.

Once you've downloaded the original software or found an appropriate backup of your own, the process should take no more than a few minutes.

Meanwhile, our list of reasons why you should run stock Android will show you what you have to gain from using it.


How to Fix a Fire TV Stick That’s Not Working | MakeUseOf

So, your Amazon Fire TV Stick is not working as it should be. Maybe you've got buffering video, maybe the remote has stopped working, or perhaps it's just not powering up at all.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can try to get it going again. Let's take a look at what you need to do when your Fire Stick is not working.

1. Check Your Fire Stick Is Set Up Properly

First of all, make sure that your Fire TV Stick is set up properly. It may sound obvious, but cables can easily work their way loose over time. If the device appears to be completely unresponsive, try a different HDMI port on your TV as well.

Also, make sure your Stick is powered properly, connected to a wall outlet or power strip, and that you're using the original power adapter if you still have it.

Don't use one of your TV's spare USB ports for power. Although it can be tempting to have one less cable behind your TV, they don't always output enough juice to keep a Fire Stick working reliably.

Even if it does work fully some of the time, random restarts or even boot loops are likely.

2. Restart the Fire Stick

The Fire TV Stick is designed to be left plugged in and connected at all times. But you can fix many problems with the occasional reboot, including connection issues or failed updates.

There are three different ways to restart a Fire Stick.

  1. Go to Settings > My Fire TV > Restart and then confirm when prompted. This is the best option, as it will close down all the software properly before restarting.
  2. If the Fire Stick is frozen and you cannot navigate through the menus to get to Settings, hold down the Select and Play/Pause buttons on your remote for about five seconds or so. This should force an instant reboot without a confirmation screen.
  3. The final option, if neither of the above work, is to pull the plug. Removing and reattaching the power supply will force a reboot. Don't do this when your device is updating.

3. Check Your Network Connection

When you've got generally sluggish performance, buffering video, or the main interface isn't loading at all, your network connection could be to blame.

Go to Settings > Network to check that you've got a Wi-Fi connection. You can also check the signal strength here. If it's bad then you'll experience slower speeds no matter how fast your internet connection itself. This can lead to things like buffering or a reduction in the quality of your picture.

The only way to solve this is by moving either the Fire Stick or your router so that they're nearer to each other and have fewer objects blocking the signal between the two.

For dropped connections or other Wi-Fi problems, quickly rebooting your router can often also help.

4. Install All Available Updates for Your Fire Stick

Not all Fire Stick problems are necessarily unique to your device. There can be bugs in the software that affect how it performs. To get around this, make sure your device's software is up to date.

Amazon recommends that you leave your Fire TV Stick plugged in and connected all the time. This enables updates to happen in the background, and you don't risk unplugging the stick when one is in progress.

Updates should happen automatically, but you can check if any are available and begin the process manually if you need to. Go to Settings > My Fire TV > About > Check for Updates to get started.

5. Reset Your Fire Stick Apps

There are a lot of great apps you should install on your Fire Stick. But sometimes they can stop working properly, or keep crashing unexpectedly. When this happens, there are three ways to fix it.

First, make sure your apps are up to date. As with the Fire Stick software itself, this should happen automatically, but you can do it manually. Go to Settings > Applications > Manage Installed Applications. Select the malfunctioning app and you'll be able to install an update if there's one available.

Failing that, you can reset the app. From the same menu option, choose the app you want to repair and select Clear cache. That will delete all the files and data the app has temporarily saved, and which can sometimes cause problems.

If that still doesn't fix it, go the same menu again and select Clear data. This completely resets the app. You have to set up again from scratch, including any login details.

Also, keep in mind that uninstalling apps you don't use can help to speed up your Fire TV Stick.

6. Fix Your Fire Stick Remote

If your Fire Stick remote is not working any more, there are a few things you can try to get it going again. Often, restarting the Fire Stick itself will be enough.

If not, you can reset and repair a Fire TV Stick remote by holding down the Home button for up to 20 seconds.

Also, try taking the batteries out and putting them back in again---or swapping them for a new pair. Give the battery connectors a quick wipe to clean them while you're at it.

If these things don't work, the remote might be broken. Don't worry, there are plenty of replacement Fire Stick remotes you can buy, and while you're waiting for it to arrive you can use your phone as a controller instead.

See our guide on how to pair the Fire Stick remote for details on how to get it set up.

7. Reset the Fire Stick

Finally, the nuclear option. When you've tried everything else and your Fire Stick is still not working properly, you can restore it to factory settings and set it up again as if it were brand new.

Go to Settings > My Fire TV > Reset to Factory Defaults, then confirm when prompted.

Once this is done, you'll have to go through the whole setup process again. This includes entering your Amazon account details, and reinstalling all of your apps. Any other changes you've made to your settings will be lost, but things like your Watchlist will survive the process.

Fix a Fire Stick That's Not Working

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is pretty reliable, and when it does stop working it's usually quite easy to fix. Power and connection issues are most likely to be at fault, and it's only once you've checked them that you need to worry about resetting apps or delving too far into the settings.

Of course, sometimes the device may be beyond repair. If this is the case you'll have to replace it with either a brand new Fire Stick, or you could consider an alternative like a Roku instead.


How to Pair the Amazon Fire TV Stick Remote | MakeUseOf

Has your Fire Stick remote broken or stopped working for some reason? Would you like to add a few more, or use the remote to control your TV?

Here's everything you need to know about how to pair a Fire Stick remote with your Amazon Fire TV Stick.

When you're starting to set up a new Fire TV Stick, pairing the remote is one of the first steps you need to take. If all goes well, it should happen automatically:

  1. Connect and power up your Fire Stick.
  2. Insert the batteries into your remote.
  3. Within a few seconds, the Fire Stick should connect and pair with your remote without you needing to do anything.
  4. Click the Play/Pause button to continue the setup.

If that doesn't work, remove and reinsert the batteries to try again. Alternatively, you can use a manual setup by holding down the Home button for 10 to 20 seconds until it is paired.

How to Pair a Replacement Fire TV Stick Remote

If you need to replace your Fire TV Stick remote, or want to add additional ones, the process is pretty straightforward.

You can connect up to seven remotes to your Fire Stick, so each member of the family can have one. You can add official Fire Stick remotes---including any you've got left over from an older model after an upgrade---as well as third party remotes.

Official Fire Stick Remotes

To pair an official replacement Amazon Fire TV Stick remote:

  1. Make sure your Fire Stick is connected and powered on.
  2. Hold down the Home button for around 10 to 20 seconds. On the latest generation remotes, the amber LED will begin blinking rapidly---you can release the Home key when this starts. On older versions without an LED, keep that button pressed.
  3. When pairing is complete, you'll see a message appear on screen in the bottom right-hand corner.

This doesn't always work first time. If yours fails, simply repeat the process to try again.

fire stick add new remote

Alternatively, go to Settings > Controllers & Bluetooth Devices > Amazon Fire TV Remotes > Add New Remote. Your Fire Stick will now begin scanning for any available remotes within range.

Third-Party Fire Stick Remotes

If you've picked up one of the best third-party Fire TV Stick remotes instead, the remote replacement pairing process might be slightly different.

In most cases, third-party remotes pair in the same way as the official ones do, by holding down the Home button. However, you might need to hold it for a lot longer, perhaps up to 60 seconds. You might also need to reboot your Fire Stick first.

fire stick other bluetooth devices

For other devices, you might need to switch the remote into pairing mode (check the user manual to see how to do that), then go to Settings > Controllers & Bluetooth Devices and either Game Controllers or Other Bluetooth Devices to begin scanning and pairing.

How to Use Your Smartphone as a Fire TV Stick Remote

One of the neat things about Fire Sticks is that you can control them with your phone or tablet as well as a dedicated remote. It's a useful option for those times when your official remote slips down the back of your couch.

You need a special app to use your phone as a remote. Although there are a few options available, the official Amazon Fire TV app is the best one to go with. It's available to download for free for Android and iOS.

The app connects over Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth, so you need to make sure your device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Fire Stick.

  1. Turn on the Fire Stick, and open the app on your phone or tablet. Log into your account in the app.
  2. After a short delay, the app will list all the Fire Sticks connected to your Wi-Fi network. Click the one you want to use.
  3. You'll now see a four-digit code displayed on your TV. Enter this code on your phone.
  4. And now you're connected. You'll need to reconnect each time you use the app, although you won't need to enter the four-digit code again.

By default, the app uses a directional pad as the control method. If you prefer, you can go into the settings and switch it to a swiping gesture instead.

To use Alexa within the app, hold the microphone icon and drag down. Tap the keyboard when you need to search---being able to type properly is one advantage the app has over a traditional remote.

How to Pair Your Fire TV Stick Remote With Your TV

With a recent generation Fire Stick remote (one with the volume buttons) and a TV that supports HDMI-CEC, you can pair the two together.

It allows you to turn your TV on or off and also control the volume---not a huge thing, but worth doing to save you having to juggle two remotes.

To get started you need to activate HDMI-CEC on your TV. You'll find this in your TV's settings, although some manufacturers call it by a different name. Then go to Settings > Display & Sounds on your Fire Stick to activate HDMI-CEC there, too.

fire stick cec

Now, on your Fire Stick:

  1. Go to Settings > Equipment Control > Manage Equipment.
  2. Select TV, then Change TV.
  3. The Fire Stick will then attempt to automatically detect your TV, and complete the setup. Follow the onscreen prompts to accept or reject what it suggests. If you reject it, you'll be prompted to manually select your make of your TV.

How to Unpair a Fire TV Stick Remote

Finally, you've connected up all your remotes, but now you want to remove one. You can do this by unpairing the remote from your Fire Stick.

unpair fire stick remote

  1. Go to Settings > Controllers & Bluetooth Devices and select either Amazon Fire TV Remotes, Game Controllers, or Other Bluetooth Devices, depending on what you want to remove.
  2. Highlight the device you no longer need, then click the three-line menu button on your main remote.
  3. Click OK to unpair the selected device.

Please note that you can't unpair a remote if you've only got one set up.

You should now know everything there is to know about how to pair a Fire Stick remote to your Amazon Fire TV Stick. However, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is very flexible when it comes to letting you connect controllers. You can use official and third party remotes, apps, or even connect a mouse and keyboard.

It also supports controllers that allow you to take advantage of the growing number of games available for the device. Take a look at our guide to the best Amazon Fire TV Stick game controllers to see which ones we recommend.


MacKeeper Has Cleaned Up Its Act, but Should You Use It?

Few programs in the Mac world have a reputation quite as bad as MacKeeper. But now it’s back, with a new look and a cleaned-up image.

So is it time to reconsider this controversial software? Let’s take a look.

What Is MacKeeper?

If you’ve heard of MacKeeper, chances are that what you’ve heard was negative. You may have learned of the aggressive advertising and scareware tactics that tried to get people to pay to fix problems they didn’t have. There was also the data breach that exposed information on some 13 million of its users.

This got so bad that other antivirus products started flagging up MacKeeper as a PUP—potentially unwanted program.

Now MacKeeper is on its way back. There’s a new management team in place, the company has cleaned up its advertising (and the affiliates blamed for ruining its reputation), and the program is now notarized by Apple.

So whereas once you might have steered clear of MacKeeper, is it now worth installing?

What MacKeeper Does

MacKeeper is an all-in-one performance and security solution for Mac. It’s split into four modules: cleaning, performance, security, and privacy. There are three tools in each section, and most are free.

mackeeper homepage

An optional subscription gets you antivirus protection and a VPN. And as it’s aimed at less tech-savvy users, you also get tech support via online or live chat as part of the premium plan.

When you launch MacKeeper for the first time, it scans your Mac, running through parts of each of the modules and highlighting elements to fix. If you haven’t paid up by this stage, it will warn you that your Mac is unprotected and vulnerable. However, there’s no obligation to subscribe.

mackeeper first scan

MacKeeper runs through a basic scan every day and alerts you to any major problems.

You can also access all of its individual utilities separately. Here’s a closer look at what they do.

Cleaning and Performance

The Cleaning and Performance modules include a set of tools for tuning up your Mac. They are effectively software solutions to hardware problems.

In the cleaning section you get Safe Cleanup, which searches for unwanted data like language files, logs, and caches. There’s also Duplicates Finder, which tracks down multiple copies of the same file. Smart Uninstaller can cleanly remove apps, as well as delete the files left over from your previous uninstalls.

mackeeper smart uninstaller

The benefits are modest, though. Between them, these tools offered to reclaim around 2.8GB of space on our drive. Excluding caches, which macOS usually takes care of on its own, this fell to around 800MB. For reference, MacKeeper itself used around 240MB with everything set up and installed.

These utilities are okay for the rare spring clean, but if you need to use them regularly, you’ve got bigger problems. Buy an external drive for your Mac instead to permanently increase your storage.

In the Performance module, there’s the Memory Cleaner. This attempts to free up RAM by shutting down background apps, but achieves the same result as a reboot. In any case, macOS handles memory well enough without the need for third-party apps.

mackeeper memory cleaner

Login Items also repeats something already in macOS: the ability to control what launches when you boot your Mac.

The tool lets you see some system processes that launch (as well as apps), yet offers no meaningful guidance on what you should or shouldn’t disable. There’s a reason Apple keeps this hidden.

The best of the bunch was Update Tracker. This finds updates to the programs you’ve installed from outside the App Store. It worked with most—but not all—of our apps, finding 16 available updates.


Security is what MacKeeper is best-known for. The main part of the Security module is Antivirus, which you must pay to activate.

Strangely, real-time protection is not enabled by default. Given that the app is aimed at more casual users, this seems like something that they could easily overlook. As well as real-time scanning, you can do a full scan, or a custom scan to check single files or folders.

mackeeper antivirus

It’s hard to judge the efficacy of antivirus software until you get infected. Plus, the jury’s still out on whether Macs even need antivirus software.

A full scan took around an hour and, unsurprisingly, turned up no issues. Unfortunately, services like AV Test don’t yet have independent tests of MacKeeper’s antivirus capabilities, so it’s hard to judge exactly how effective it is.

The other security tools are Adware Cleaner, which scans for adware and other malware. This also does real-time scanning. Again, you have to activate it, this time through a setting tucked away in Preferences.

mackeeper adware scan

There’s also a copy of the Find My feature installed on every Mac, which MacKeeper calls Track My Mac. To justify its existence, it has one extra feature: it will take a photo of anyone who tries and fails to log in to your computer.

You have to install and activate this separately, a process which involves granting MacKeeper permission to track your location and use your camera.

We had problems with it. At first it struggled to find our location, and later wouldn’t work at all, prompting a full reinstall of MacKeeper to get it going again. We’ll stick with Apple’s version.


The final module is Privacy. This offers StopAd, which installs ad-blocking extensions to Safari or Chrome. It also includes ID Theft Guard, which monitors email addresses for potential data breaches.

Theft Guard shows if your addresses have been involved in breaches and how, including listing any compromised passwords. You can add as many email addresses as you like, but have to verify them to prove that they’re yours.

mackeeper id theft guard

The main part of the Privacy module is a VPN called Private Connect. It’s a no-frills service—you get hundreds of servers to pick from across dozens of locations, but can’t use any advanced features like a kill switch, for example.

During testing we didn’t experience any dropped connections, but we noticed a small impact on performance. Choosing the Best Server option, we hit an average speed of 36Mbps and a ping rate of 57ms, compared to 47Mbps and 18ms with it turned off.

Connecting to New York from the UK, we averaged 25.73Mbps, with a ping rate of 159ms. That’s still fast enough for Netflix, though.

mackeeper vpn

While more serious users like to research their VPNs, and might find that info on the MacKeeper service (including a logging policy) is a little scarce, it’s a good choice for more casual users.

How to Uninstall MacKeeper

Whenever a program has a questionable reputation, one of the main concerns is how easy it is to uninstall.

Dragging MacKeeper to the Trash doesn’t quite do the job. It leaves a few traces elsewhere, including a sizeable footprint in the /Library/Application Support/MacKeeper folder.

We’d recommend using a free tool like AppCleaner to make sure you get it all removed.

Should You Use MacKeeper?

The good news is that MacKeeper’s dodgy days appear to be behind it. However, that’s not the same as saying it’s worth installing. The free tools mostly fall into three groups, and don’t offer much value.

First are the ones that duplicate features already in macOS. Second are tools that don’t really do anything. And finally, other features have countless smaller alternatives freely available in the Mac App Store or elsewhere. (There are lots of ways to uninstall apps on a Mac, for example.)

Update Tracker was the most useful for us and lacks free competition. But if you don’t intend to pay, you’re better off finding and downloading smaller alternative apps as and when you need them.

As you’d expect, the paid components—the VPN and antivirus tools—are the best parts of MacKeeper. But there’s no shortage of alternatives to these, either. And there’s no getting away from the fact that MacKeeper is at the pricier end of the market.

mackeeper prices

MacKeeper costs $19.95 a month, or $143.40 for a year. By comparison, equivalent subscriptions to the anti-malware service Malwarebytes and the VPN Private Internet Access would cost $79.91 for 12 months’ use.

You could also just use free Mac antivirus software instead.

Essential Mac Utilities

Bloated, all-in-one packages are a bit of an old-fashioned concept. It’s usually easier to use small utilities to solve specific problems, or to learn how to do it yourself. Our guide on how to free up disk space on macOS will get you started.

And remember, there’s a limit to how much software can do. Always keep an eye out for the signs that it’s time to replace your Mac.

Read the full article: MacKeeper Has Cleaned Up Its Act, but Should You Use It?


How to Find Free Fonts Similar to Paid Fonts

It’s natural to take design inspiration from other people’s work. But there’s nothing more annoying than seeing a font you love and not knowing what it’s called, or discovering that it’s way beyond your budget.

Fortunately, there are lots of tools to help you identify typefaces, or find similar fonts for free. So, let’s take a look at the best ways to find free fonts similar to paid fonts.

1. Alternatype

find free fonts by name alternatype

If you already know the name of the font you’d like to use, but just can’t afford to buy it, then Alternatype is the tool to use. The site has a large database of typefaces—just enter the name of the one you like and it will suggest one or two free alternatives.

Downloadable and web fonts are both supported, with a download link for each. There’s also a Specimen option that allows you see the font in action before you decide to use it.

2. Identifont

identifont similar fonts

Identifont works along similar lines, allowing you to enter the name of the font to get a list of possible alternatives. Each font page includes a display with upper and lower case characters, a few symbols, and links to where you can get the fonts.

But there’s more. Identifont also allows you to match fonts by feature. Click through a series of options—does it have serifs, descenders, and so on—and you’ll end up with a list of suggested alternatives. You might not find an exact match this way, but you could find something you like even more.

Unusually, you can search dingbats fonts as well, to find those that contain certain symbols.

3. What Font Is

whatfontis find font

If you’re not sure of the name of the font, or it’s not showing up in the Alternatype or Identifont databases, you could use an image to identify it instead. Using What Font Is, you can either upload a screenshot of the text or just use a link to an online image where the font appears.

You will then need to identify the individual letters in the word or phrase in your image. What Font Is can present you with all results, or filter down to only free fonts or only fonts that can be used commercially.

The larger the characters are the better chance What Font Is has of identifying the font. A few tests with smaller images yielded inaccurate results.

4. WhatTheFont

whatthefont match similar fonts

WhatTheFont, from, is quick and easy to use. Drag your image into the browser window and it should automatically detect the text. If not—or if there’s more than one font in use—adjust the crop box to select the text you need.

Hit the Identify button to instantly see some font suggestions. Once you’ve got your results you can test them out with text of your own. Commercial fonts are included among the results, with no filter options.

If you like WhatTheFont, there’s a mobile app version for iOS and Android, too. You can use these to take photos to identify fonts in magazines or on billboard posters.

5. Font Matcherator

font matcherator

Font Matcherator is available from, and claims to be more powerful than its rivals.

It works with images you upload, or on any image from the web—you just need to know the URL. It works best with text on a plainer background. We found it struggled to auto-detect text on busier images.

When this happens you can crop in to the text manually, and home in on specific characters to improve the recommendations.

What we like about Font Matcherator is that it works with OpenType font features, including substitute glyphs. So if you’ve got handwritten fonts, for example, it should work well with them where other services may struggle.

6. Photoshop

match fonts in photoshop

All of these other services run in your web browser. But if you’ve got Photoshop you can just use that instead.

The benefit is that it doesn’t just work with online fonts (Typekit or Adobe Fonts, in this case), it can match those you’ve already got installed on your system. Given how easy it is to amass a huge collection of fonts—and how hard it can be to organize them—this is a really valuable feature.

To get started, open the image containing the font you want to match. Go to Type > Match Font. Then drag the crop box over a portion of the text, and wait for the results to appear in the Match Font dialog box.

How to Find More Free Fonts

While it’s always good to be inspired by typography you see in existing projects, when it comes to free fonts you aren’t short of choices.

For the best free web fonts, take a look at our guide to Google Fonts you can use in presentations. Alternatively, you can download hundreds of fonts from our pick of the best sites for free fonts.

Read the full article: How to Find Free Fonts Similar to Paid Fonts


The 20 Best Fonts for Greeting Cards and Posters

Your choice of fonts can make or break your greeting cards or posters.

So, to help you get it right, here are 20 basic, geometric, whimsical, bold, and dingbat fonts that are guaranteed to add flair to your creations.

Basic Fonts

Simple and readable, a basic font is ideal for clear headlines or body text. You can’t go wrong with the likes of Helvetica and Futura, but here are a few more worth considering.

1. Public Sans

public sans

This open source font from the US government is clean, neutral, and familiar. It works almost anywhere, for headers or text.

2. Metropolis

metropolis font

Metropolis is a modern, minimalist sans-serif font that is a good option when you’re looking for an alternative to Helvetica.

3. Bodoni XT

bodoni xt

Whether you’re making inspirational posters, wedding invites, or Christmas cards, Bodoni XT will help bring a touch of class to your designs.

Geometric Fonts

Geometric fonts are simple, yet deliver a more distinctive look than you’ll get from basic fonts. They have rounded shapes, and modern, clean styles.

4. Equinox


Equinox is a minimal, sci-fi-inspired geometric font. It makes for a good alternative to Futura, although you need to be aware that it doesn’t contain any lowercase characters.

5. Gilmer


Another clean and versatile geometric typeface, Gilmer also includes an outline font that will work on a variety of poster designs.

6. Fox and Cat

fox and cat font

Fox and Cat is a lovely, light typeface with both upper and lowercase characters. The quirky design is ideal for greeting cards, and the license even allows for commercial use.

7. Anders

anders font

This is a minimal yet very distinctive font that will bring a striking look to your posters, greeting cards, or anything else you’re working on.

Whimsical Fonts

When you want to inject a sense of fun or whimsy into your designs, something like a handwritten typeface is the go-to option. Here are some that will liven up your birthday cards and other projects.

8. Windsong

windsong font

This calligraphic script font is a popular choice thanks to its OpenType feature support that helps to achieve the authentic handwritten look.

9. Fabfelt


Fabfelt is a handwritten font with a more casual, retro feel. It’s available in OTF and TTF versions, and includes a full range of characters.

10. Janda Happy Day

janda happy day

Janda Happy Day is the definition of a whimsical font. The curly-styled characters are fun, yet it remains highly readable.

Bold Fonts

To create real impact, choose a bold font. They can be serif or sans-serif, condensed or handwritten. Either way, they pack a punch.

11. League Gothic

league gothic font

Inspired by vintage Gothic typefaces, League Gothic is a classic that works in a whole range of projects. It’s open source, too, so use it however you like.

12. Chunkfive


Chunkfive is indeed chunky; a serif font that makes a real impact. This slab font is best used on posters where you need to get your message across without fuss.

13. Brusher


This bold, brush-lettered typeface offers impact without compromising on style. To download Brusher, you have to sign up for a free download link using your email address.

14. Zenfyrkalt


Zenfyrkalt is a hand-drawn bold font with a truly unique style. It combines impact and whimsy and works for fun projects.

Dingbat Fonts

Dingbat fonts are an easy way for those of us who don’t have the greatest artistic skill to add some cute drawings to our creations.

15. Bella K Dings Are Cool

bella d wingdings

A large selection of shapes that are suitable for many projects on a whole range of subjects. The hand drawn style adds a nice touch.

16. Heart Doodles

heart doodles dingbats font

Heart Doodles has got everything you need to enhance your homemade Valentine’s Day cards, with its selection of heart-based shapes.

17. Mustache

mustache dingbats

There’s a dingbats font for every occasion. To prove the point, here’s a collection of 26 mustache styles, to cover all of your facial hair needs.

18. Pea Jelene’s Doodles

pea jelenes doodles

Pea Jelene’s Doodles are great for posters and greeting cards, and much more—a cake design, or the menu at a coffee shop, for example.

19. KG Christmas Tree Fonts

kg christmas tree fonts

Featuring over 50 Christmas trees and more, this font collection will add a seasonal touch to your Christmas cards and party posters.

20. MFT Itty Bitty Baby


Finally, this baby-themed collection is the perfect accompaniment for baby showers, Congratulations cards, or even T-Shirt designs.

How to Get Even More Free Fonts

Do you want more free fonts for birthday cards, greeting cards, or posters? Take a look at our picks of the best websites for free fonts to see where you can get them.

Also, you can get your designs looking as professional as possible by making sure you always choose the right fonts for your projects. Our guide detailing how to pick the right font pairs will help get you started.

Read the full article: The 20 Best Fonts for Greeting Cards and Posters


11 Amazing Android Apps That’ll Change How You Use Your Phone

There are millions of apps in the Play Store that range from addictive games to essential productivity tools to great ways to customize your phone.

Even better, there are also apps that will completely change how you use Android. Some enhance the user interface, others automate common tasks, and some take popular features in the operating system and make them even better.

Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing apps for Android.

1. Lynket Browser

Social media is great for finding interesting articles around the web, but it isn’t always convenient to read them right away. Sometimes it’s better to queue up several articles and come back to them later.

That’s what you can do with Lynket Browser. It opens web pages in the background. You can access whenever you want by tapping floating, onscreen bubbles.

It’s simple, yet so useful. The app works with your existing default browser, and can also speed up browsing by automatically loading the AMP versions of the links you click.

Download: Lynket Browser (Free, in-app purchases available)

2. Popup Widget 3

The best Android widgets are really useful, but if you use too many of them, they’ll quickly clutter your home screens and slow down your phone.

Popup Widget 3 rethinks how they work. It turns all your selected widgets into 1×1 icons on your home screen. When you tap one, it’ll pop open so you can see what’s inside.

The app gives you the convenience and speed of widgets—you don’t need to launch the full app just to see your latest tweets or check the weather—without the performance hit.

Download: Popup Widget 3 (Free)

3. Notification Notes

Notification Notes does something so obvious you’ll wonder why it isn’t already a part of Android. Put simply, it allows you to create notes and then pin them to your notifications panel as reminders.

The app doesn’t offer many options, but it doesn’t really need to. You can group notes or keep them separate, and activate or deactivate them as required. They’ll also show on your lockscreen, ready to jog your memory whenever you need them.

Download: Notification Notes (Free)

4. MacroDroid

Take the tedium out of the common tasks you perform every day by turning them into macros, a series of commands that happen automatically.

MacroDroid is similar to the popular Android automation app Tasker. But using Tasker effectively has an incredibly steep learning curve, and MacroDroid is an app you can install and start using instantly.

The app needs you to configure as few as two settings—just an action that will be prompted by a trigger. So plugging in your headphones could be the trigger, and the corresponding actions could be the automatic launch of the Spotify app and adjustment of the volume level. Or you could have your phone switch to Airplane mode (the action) at night (the trigger). You could also tell it to read your text messages aloud when your phone’s in a car dock.

You can add optional constraints to fine-tune the conditions under which your macro can run. This gives the app even more power, and your macros can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be.

Download: MacroDroid (Free, in-app purchases available)


While MacroDroid is perfect for on-device automation, IFTTT does the same for web services. The official IFTTT app enables you to create applets that connect two internet-based services or devices, with your Android phone as the central hub.

The possibilities are almost endless. You can use IFTTT to automatically tweet, to get SMS alerts for your Google Calendar appointments, or to get notifications on price drops for products you’re looking to buy. Once you get it up and running, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it.

Download: IFTTT (Free)

6. Full Screen Gestures

The last few versions of Android have introduced gesture controls, but they’re quite limited. They only work at the very bottom of the screen, and they don’t let you do much beyond basic navigation.

Full Screen Gestures fixes that. It makes gestures work anywhere along the left, right, and bottom edges of the display. And it also allows you to assign two functions to each edge—one for a short swipe and one for a long swipe.

These extra options enable you to control the volume, launch Google Assistant, toggle the flashlight, and much more.

Download: Full Screen Gestures (Free, in-app purchases available)

7. MightyText

mightytext android

If you spend any amount of time sitting at your PC throughout the day, SMS Text Messaging from MightyText becomes an essential app.

It syncs with your PC, Mac, or Linux computer via a browser extension and gives you full access to your SMS messages on the bigger screen. You can read, reply, or create new messages, as well as viewing notifications from all your other apps. You can even make calls, so you’ll hardly need to pick up your phone again.

There is a monthly sending limit in the free version, so you might consider another tool if you’re a heavy user. For more like it, see other apps that let you text from your PC.

Download: MightyText (Free, in-app purchases available)

8. Universal Copy

Copy and paste on Android is mostly fine, until it doesn’t work. Some apps just don’t support it—for example, tweets, as well as YouTube and Instagram descriptions.

With Universal Copy you can copy and paste almost anything, from any app. It integrates seamlessly with the system. A long press is all you need for the option to copy your chosen text to the clipboard.

Download: Universal Copy (Free, in-app purchases available)

9. Sesame

Sesame is a universal search and shortcut maker. It’s so good that it could easily become your most-used app.

Sesame can search within almost all your other apps, showing messages from Slack or playlists in Spotify right from your home screen.

It also creates shortcuts to specific features within those programs. Whether you want to load up your daily route to work, or quickly check the live scores in your favorite sports app, you can with just a single tap.

Download: Sesame (Free, in-app purchases available)

10. Nova Launcher

The overall best way to customize your Android phone is to install a new launcher. There are a huge number to choose from, the best of which is Nova.

It’s small, fast, stable, and infinitely customizable. The default settings are perfect, but it also comes packed with extra features that you might not know about. These range from support for icon packs to the ability to resize any widget.

But the built-in gesture controls beat everything. These enable you to assign functions—from activating settings, to navigating the interface, to launching apps—to a series of taps, swipes, and pinches.

If you’re a power user, Nova’s gestures will fundamentally change how you interact with your device.

Download: Nova Launcher (Free) | Nova Launcher Prime ($4.99)

11. Super Status Bar

Android has always been heavily customizable, but one area that most people tend to ignore is the status bar. This app finally changes that.

With Super Status Bar you can adjust your display brightness or volume level by swiping along the top of the screen. You can set up a ticker to get previews of your incoming messages and notifications. And you can configure many other gesture controls, monitor your battery life, or change the look and feel of the whole area.

There’s so much going on here that it even includes a few more advanced customizations for rooted users.

Download: Super Status Bar (Free, in-app purchases available)

More Great Android Apps

This group of interesting apps will change how you use your Android phone. They make it easier to handle and let you find things you need more quickly.

But this is only the start of the great tools you can find in the Play Store. For more cool apps, check out the best apps to clean up your device as well as the most popular apps for Android.

Read the full article: 11 Amazing Android Apps That’ll Change How You Use Your Phone


4 Ways to Generate a List of Installed Apps on Your Mac

Do you have tons of apps installed on your Mac, some of which you’ve totally forgotten about? You can take stock of them and keep a reference list of every program on your system in just a few moments.

Let’s take a look at several ways you can generate a list of installed applications on your Mac.

Why Would I Want a List of Installed Apps?

There are several reasons why it’s a good idea to create a list of your apps:

  • You bought a new Mac and need to set it up. Before getting rid of your old Mac, you should generate a list of the programs on it so you know what to install on your new computer.
  • Your Mac is misbehaving and you need to reinstall macOS. Perhaps your aging Mac is still running slowly even after you’ve tried the tricks to speed up your Mac. Generate a list of installed apps before reinstalling the system so you know what which apps to reinstall once you load the fresh OS.
  • You want to downgrade macOS. If you own an older Mac, the newer releases of macOS may not run well on your machine. The only option for downgrading is a fresh installation of macOS. Having a list of installed apps before downgrading is useful so you know which apps to reinstall, if those apps work on the older system.

Here’s how to see the installed apps on your Mac.

1. List All Apps Using Finder and TextEdit

All apps that come bundled with a new Mac, plus apps you installed through both the App Store and most package managers, are in the Applications folder.

You can easily generate a list of all apps in the Applications folder using Finder and TextEdit. To begin, open Finder and hit Cmd + Shift + A to jump to the Applications folder.

If you’re not currently viewing the contents of the Applications folder as a list, press Cmd + 2 or go to View > as List.

view apps as list mac

Some apps are in subfolders in the Applications folder. To display apps in subfolders, expand the folders you’d like to include by clicking on the triangle icon to the left of the folder.

Once you’ve expanded all the folders you want, hit Cmd + A to select all the items in the Applications folder. Then press Cmd + C to copy the list.

select all apps mac

Open a new document in TextEdit. Then go to Edit > Paste and Match Style, or hit Cmd + Option + Shift + V.

paste apps list mac

All the apps in Finder’s Applications folder, including apps in expanded folders, will paste as a list into the TextEdit file. Some of the files in the subfolders may not be apps. You can go through the list and delete any files that do not end in .app.

Hit Cmd + S to save this file as either a TXT or RTF file. You should copy this file to an external or network drive so it’s available even if you can’t access your current machine.

apps on mac list

2. List All Apps Using the Terminal

On a Mac, you can also use the Terminal to list all your installed applications. Launch a Terminal window (from Applications > Utilities or using Spotlight search with Cmd + Space) and type the following command at the prompt:

ls -la /Applications/ > /Users/[USERNAME]/InstalledApps/InstalledAppsTerminal.txt

This generates a detailed directory listing of the Applications folder and writes it to a text file at the path specified. Make sure to replace [USERNAME] with yours, and feel free to change the path and file name if you like.

show apps in terminal

The -la attributes tells the system to show a detailed list of all files in the folder (-l), including hidden files (-a). This provides a more detailed list than the Finder and TextEdit method discussed in the previous section.

terminal apps list mac

3. List All APP Files Everywhere Using Terminal

Sometimes apps install in locations other than the Applications folder, especially if you download apps from outside the App Store. In this case, you can generate a list of apps installed anywhere for any user and in any folder using a command in the Terminal.

Launch a Terminal window (Applications > Utilities or using Spotlight) and type the following command at the prompt:

sudo find / -iname '*.app' > /Users/[USERNAME]/InstalledApps/InstalledAppsOnSystemTerminal.txt

This finds any APP file on your system, ignoring case (-iname), and sends the results to the specified text file. Remember to replace [USERNAME] with yours and change the path and file name if you wish.

You can also limit the results to a specific folder by replacing the slash (/) after find with the path to the folder to search.

list all app files in terminal mac

There’s a chance you’ll see some Operation not permitted messages. This is because the find command searches the entire system, and some areas of the system don’t allow access. You may also see the Not a directory message. Don’t worry about either of these—you’ll still get a list of the APP files on your system.

The list includes the full path to each file.

list of all apps and paths mac

4. List All Mac App Store Apps Using Terminal

You might want to know which apps you’ve installed just from the Mac App Store. To generate this list, launch a Terminal window (Applications > Utilities or Spotlight search) and type the following command at the prompt:

find /Applications -path '*Contents/_MASReceipt/receipt' -maxdepth 4 -print |sed '; s#/Applications/##'

This command looks in the Applications folder, then goes into the receipts folder for each app (which is in the package contents of every app) to see which have a receipt from the Mac App Store.

The results of the search are listed in the Terminal window. To save the list to a text file, select the list of APP files and copy it (Cmd + C). Then you can paste it into a document in TextEdit or another document app, and save the list.

list installed apps from mac app store

Back Up Your Mac App Lists

With the methods we discussed, you could get up to four different lists of apps. So it’s probably a good idea to use multiple methods to generate more than one list of apps when you need to check the installed software on your Mac.

Remember to store your lists of apps on an external or network drive so you have it when setting up your new Mac or the reinstalled system on your current Mac. Text files are a good choice of format for your lists. Since TextEdit or any other text editor can read them, you won’t need to install special software.

If you need to flesh out your list of installed apps, check out our guide to the best Mac apps.

Read the full article: 4 Ways to Generate a List of Installed Apps on Your Mac


The 6 Best Free RAW Image Processors for Mac

If you shoot photos in RAW, you might think you need to shell out for Lightroom or some other expensive image software to process them. But you don’t. macOS has lots of options when it comes to high-quality free RAW converters.

But which should you choose? Here’s our picks for the best free RAW photo editors for Mac.

1. Manufacturer’s Software

Capture One free raw editor for mac

Before you delve into third-party RAW photo editors, don’t overlook the software you might already have. Most cameras use a proprietary RAW format, so they come with free software to let you process your images.

If you need a CR2 viewer for your Mac, for example, you can use Canon’s own software: Digital Photo Professional. But if you’re a Nikon user, you get the free Capture NX-D program instead.

Here’s where you can find the free downloads for some of the main camera manufacturers:

The software on offer varies in quality—Sony’s Capture One Express is perhaps the best example—but most does just fine for first-pass editing. Once you’ve tweaked your image, you’ll probably want to throw it into an editor of your choice for further adjustments.

Some manufacturers (and smartphones) use the DNG format for RAW. This is a universal format that works in any RAW editor.

2. Apple Photos

apple photos editor

On the subject of software you’ve already got, don’t forget about Apple Photos. It’s installed on every Mac, and is a pretty decent RAW editor.

Photos is designed primarily as a photo organizer, and is especially useful if you take a lot of pictures on your iPhone. Yet the editing features are better than you might expect. It borrows plenty from Apple’s old Lightroom alternative Aperture, which was discontinued a while ago.

The program is great for quick edits, and can handle large libraries fairly well. If basic tweaks are all you’re interested in—brightness and contrast, straightening the horizon, and so on—then there’s no need to look beyond Photos. There are also Curves and Levels tools for more hands-on use.

Using it comes with a few compromises, though. You can’t do local editing, and there’s no support for lens profiles. You might also have to wait a while before the app is updated to support brand-new camera models.

3. darktable

darktable RAW editor for Mac

darktable is one of the most popular free and open source RAW photo converters for Mac (it’s available for Linux and Windows, too).

It’s a full Lightroom replacement, with solid photo sorting and management features. darktable includes a professional printing mode, as well as a map mode that uses the location data embedded in your photos.

As a RAW editor, it really excels. It packs in all the features you’d expect (plus a few more you wouldn’t) for tweaking color and contrast or reducing noise. One interesting tool is the tone equalizer, which provides a graphical way to adjust the overall mood of your shots.

As is often the case with open source apps, the power comes at the expense of polish and usability. While it’s easy to pick up the basics in darktable, if you want to adopt it for more serious use, you’ll find it comes with quite a learning curve. For help, check out our guide on how to use darktable.

Download: darktable (Free)

4. RawTherapee

rawtherapee mac

RawTherapee is another well-loved open source raw editor that’s available for Mac as well as Windows and Linux. It’s incredibly powerful, and the first time you open it you’re likely to find the interface overwhelming. But it’s worth persevering to learn.

There’s a mind-boggling number of options here. Even something relatively straightforward like sharpening your images can seem so much more complicated than in other programs. But if precision control is what you need, this is your app.

Fortunately, you can download or save your own development profiles. Once you find a style you like, this lets you massively simplify your workflow. The complexity means that virtually all the features you’d want are here: haze reduction, lens corrections, and lots more.

RawTherapee isn’t for casual users. Its other main negative is that it’s pretty poor for file management. If you give this one a try, you’ll need to find another way to keep your shots organized.

Download: RawTherapee (Free)

5. Picktorial

picktorial raw viewer mac

If you’re primarily looking for a free RAW viewer rather than an editor, then take a look at Picktorial. The app is exclusive to Mac, and comes with some powerful and useful image management features.

In the free version you can use Picktorial to open, view, and export your RAW images. You can quickly import, sort, and rate your photos, and the A/B and Before/After panels make it simple to compare and find your best shots.

If full editing is what you’re after, you can do that within Picktorial. You need to upgrade to the Premium version for either a monthly subscription or a one-off fee.

Download: Picktorial (Free, premium version available)

6. digiKam


Finally, here’s one more open source RAW editor. digiKam is a large app, with a 300MB+ download and almost 1GB of space required on your hard drive. But once you’ve got it installed and set up, the app has plenty to offer.

Some of the features are the standard RAW processing tools, like curves and levels adjustments, or noise reduction and sharpening. Meanwhile, some are less common, like the automatic hot pixel removal tool.

Others are more in line with what you’d expect from Photoshop. You can use digiKam to add text or apply paint filters, and you can export images directly to your social media accounts.

It’ll take a while to master digiKam because it has so much to get to grips with.

Download: digiKam (Free)

Editing RAW Photos

There are loads of great options for editing RAW photos on macOS. But you might still wonder when you should shoot in RAW, and whether it’s okay to shoot JPEG at other times. Our RAW vs JPEG guide has all the answers you need.

If you like to edit your photos on your phone as well, check out the best free image editors for iPhone. Some of them support RAW editing, too.

Read the full article: The 6 Best Free RAW Image Processors for Mac